I somehow woke up a few minutes before my alarm went off at 4 am.
I got dressed and went out to the courtyard of my hostel, where I made myself a cup of coffee, ate a banana, and waited for my pick-up to Borobudur. It’s the world’s largest buddhist temple and was built in the 9th century.
The van arrived around 4:45. I was the first person in the car.
We drove 10 minutes to pick up another guy, an Indonesian. Then we picked up a Thai man. We drove about 20 minutes more and picked up a 20-something girl. Finally someone who looked my age that I could potentially spend the morning with!!
We arrived in Borobudur at 6:30 and were led to the ticket office. Our driver bought our tickets for us as we sipped on our “welcome drink,” which was coffee, tea, or water. I chose coffee.
I saw that the other girl had a student ID, meaning she got a discount on the ticket. I asked her if she was studying here.
Yes, she said. I also learned that she’s French, named Emma, and is studying law and economics.
We got through the gate and then walked a few hundred meters to the temple. The road leading to it was pristine and beautiful, lined with palm trees and neatly trimmed bushes. The temple looked absolutely incredible, and I was really excited to explore it.
We walked up the first level of stairs and around the perimeter of the temple. We continued on up until we got to the very top.
There were a lot of people at the top, mostly taking photos of themselves and of each other. A few of the girls were wearing really nice dresses for the Instagram photo-op. We could hear singing from the mosques as we walked around the many stupas and buddhas. It was very strange to be standing on a huge, famous Buddhist temple, listening to the roaring music of the Muslim mosques.
Emma and I got some shots, even a couple of each other, and then went back down.
I asked her something else about studying in Java, and she suddenly said,
“Ok. Can I tell you a secret?”
“Yes, what is it?”
“I don’t study here. I’m just on holiday, and my friend studies here. I’ve been visiting her for a few days and I used her ID to get the student discount.”
I started laughing. How brilliant! I asked to see her friend’s passport to see if they looked alike at all. Their resemblances began and ended with their brown hair and fair skin. Pretty funny. I’m not surprised it worked, though. I doubt the employees really look at the photos too closely.
We walked around the lower levels, which were much quieter. Some of the buddhas were beheaded. Apparently the heads were stolen over the years and are now in museums abroad.
Back down at the bottom, we got to talking about her boyfriend. I asked her how they met.
“Don’t laugh, but… Tinder.”
“No no I think that’s amazing! I love tinder love. How many dates did you go on before you made it official?”
“Ok. Americans have a really hard time understanding this, but French people don’t go on dates.”
“What do you mean?”
“We just hang out and then implicitly know that we like each other. You don’t ask to be boyfriend or girlfriend.”
“Wait, so you just assume that the other person likes you enough that they want to date you?? How can you live like that?!”
I was bewildered. How is that possible? So you’re just sitting there, guessing all the time? Wondering if they like you as much as you like them?
“I know, it’s crazy. You only know you’re someone’s girlfriend when they introduce you as such.”
But what if you don’t want to be their girlfriend? What if you thought things were more casual?? I was so confused. I didn’t understand this system at all.
We walked around the premise, which was all very clean and well-maintained. I guess that’s what our $25 goes towards. We saw some elephants as well. I assume there is some sort of sanctuary here? They didn’t look very happy, though.
We got back to the meeting point 30 minutes before our agreed departure time of 8:30. We sat down at one of the tables and I cracked open my bag of tempeh chips. I was getting really hungry.
We got going at 8:15. I dozed off in the van and woke up just before we got to Emma’s place. We said bye without exchanging contact information.
We spent such a nice morning together, but I know I’ll probably never see her again. It made me think— what’s the point? Why bother meeting people so briefly when they’re going to disappear from your life just as quickly as they appeared?
But then I realized there is a point: I learned a little about her and about French culture, and I had some laughs. Sometimes that’s enough.
I posted more about this on my Instagram:
Today I walked around Borobudur with a French girl I met in the van on the way. We chatted about the French way of dating (they don’t ask each other out/ask to become exclusive: they just implicitly “know” when it’s exclusive….??! 😱 blew my mind) our thoughts on Indonesia, and her time living in Ireland, among other things. We parted ways without exchanging contact info, and it made me think to myself: what is the point of meeting people so briefly? Why even bother? But then I realized: that is the point. I learned something new about French culture, we shared some laughs, I learned a little about her life, and that’s all there needs to be. Sometimes you don’t need to add them on FB or follow them on IG to make the interaction “worth it.” #borobudur #javaindonesia #travelthoughts
When I got back to my hostel, Stu was eating breakfast in the courtyard. I sat down with him and ordered breakfast— today was banana pancakes with fresh watermelon, melon, and pineapple. Yum!
I booked my hostel for Jakarta while Stu researched the cheapest way to get to and up Mt. Bromo.
I got my laptop and blogged for a bit while Stu continued to read up on Mt. Bromo. After reading a bunch of blogs, he finally figured out what he was going to do— take a train from Yogyakarta to Surabaya, stay there overnight, then take a bus to a Probolinggo the next day and climb up the mountain.
I was getting bored of just sitting at the hostel with my laptop so we headed out for a coffee.
I had been wanting to check out Viavia, a hostel/cafe/working space/bakery/yoga studio. I wanted to do yoga, but they of course didn’t have any classes on Sundays. Ugh.
I got an iced coffee and we sat there and chatted until Stu had to leave to catch the 3 pm showing of Solo. I didn’t really have an interest in seeing it, so I decided to just go somewhere else and get something to eat.
As we paid the bill, I worked up the courage to ask Stu to be on my podcast. I had been thinking about having him on to talk about his travels. He’d been on the road for 1.5 years at this point, so I really wanted to get his perspective— traveling for that long must bring about some cool stories and attitudes about life.
“So, ummmm, if you have time after the movie, and if you’re up for it, would you want to be on my podcast? I want to interview you about your travels because I’ve been wanting to get someone on who’s been traveling for a long time.”
“You want to interview me?”
“Oh. Ummm, sure! I’d be honored.”
“Cool. Don’t worry. It’s really casual.”
“Ok. I’ll see you when I’m back from the theater, then.”
“Sweet. See you soon! Have fun!”
I walked down the street for a bit, trying to decide where to eat. I ultimately decided to go back to Milas since it’s so chill and cozy.
The last time I was there, I went into their library and saw that they had Running With Scissors. I wanted to read it then, but didn’t get a chance to (they don’t let you leave with library books; you have to have a membership), so I wanted to read some of it today.
I sat down at one of the low-to-the-ground tables, ordered my food, and went into the library to find the book. Luckily, no one had borrowed it and it was still on the shelf.
I brought it to my table and read the first few pages before my food arrived.
I quickly ate and got back to my book. I thought I would just read for an hour or so, but I ended up getting so engrossed in it that I finished half of the 300-page memoir by 5:30. Augusten Burrough’s childhood was absolutely insane. His mom and dad were violent to each other and completely neglected him, got divorced, his mom sent him to live with her psychiatrist’s family, he was sexually abused… I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil it too much.
I was really sad to leave without finishing it, but I had to go back to the hostel to interview Stu. Plus it was getting pretty dark, making it harder to read outside.
We started the interview around 6. He told me he was nervous, that he’s never been interviewed before. I let him know it’s just a casual conversation and there’s no need to be.
The interview ended an hour and a half later. It was really fun getting to know him on another level. I love interviewing people, especially friends, because it gives you an excuse to ask questions you’ve been wanting to ask but don’t because they don’t really fit in normal conversation.
We continued to talk for a while after we stopped recording, mostly about romantic relationships you find while traveling. We talked about how it’s so hard because you meet a bunch of people, even take an interest and really like some people, but most of the time it’s just not going to work out because you’re on completely different paths (literally) and it’s logistically difficult to work it out.
For me, it’s tricky because I’m at a time in my life where I could literally live anywhere, and would probably move somewhere for a guy if he was the right one. However, I have to balance that with my own independence. I don’t want to give up my independence and personal goals for a guy.
That’s what’s really hard. I want to find love and be in love, but I don’t want it to come at the expense of my independence. I’m so used to being single and have developed such a strong sense of self that it’s really terrifying to potentially give that away. What if I move to another country for a guy and end up having to compromise my own dreams? I know it doesn’t have to be either/or, but I think it’s really hard to balance the two.
It was 8 pm when we decided to find something to eat. We walked 10 minutes to Yam Yam, a Thai/Western restaurant with good reviews. I am always skeptical of a place that has both Asian and Western food, but I figured it was probably decent.
I ordered green curry; Stu got Penang. Mine was really good— spicy, creamy but not excessively so, and with tons of veggies like broccoli, eggplant, carrots, and zucchini.
I was quite full after dinner, but we were both craving the gelato we had gotten the night before at Gelato Del Tempo. It was right next door, so why the hell not.
I got a cone this time, with melon and dragonfruit sorbet. I loved both flavors! Not too sweet but still full of flavor. The cone was also very good. And massive. And probably not vegan. Oops.
I was so full on the walk back, and very ready for bed.
I said bye to Stu in the dorm room— I was leaving the next day for Jakarta, he was leaving for Probolinggo— it was sad, even though I’d only known him for a couple days. It’s always like that. But I’ll probably see him again since he’s planning on visiting Japan in the fall. We shall see if we see.